The Mohegan is a Northeast Indian Tribe historically based in Massachusetts; the majority are associated with the Mohegan Indian Tribe, a federally recognized tribe living on a reservation in the eastern upper Thames River valley of south-central Connecticut.
It is one of two federally recognized tribes in the state, the other being the Mashantucket Pequot, whose reservation is in Ledyard, Connecticut.
At the time the first Europeans made contact, the Mohegan tribe was part of the Pequot tribe.
Mohegan Tribe Facts: History
The early 1600s were a critical period of change for Connecticut tribes, who spoke various Algonquian languages.
The pressure from rapidly expanding European settlements created competition for land and resources, while new infectious diseases were decimating Indian populations at an alarming rate.
Within the Pequot Tribe at that time, a dispute erupted between the Pequot Sachem (head chief) Sassacus and the leader, Uncas.
Uncas left with his followers, who called themselves the Mohegan, or Wolf People, like their ancestors. Each tribe had its own idea of how to deal with conflicts with the English and other Europeans. Uncas (1598-1683) became Sachem of the Mohegan Tribe, which favored a collaboration with the English colonists. The Pequot under Sassacus chose to fight the colonists, and other local tribes took sides in the Pequot War, which lasted from 1637-1638.
Seeing the great losses brought on by continued fighting, Uncas had befriended the European invaders. This controversial decision brought Uncas and the Mohegan people into an uneasy alliance with the English in the ensuing war with the Pequot (1637-1638). The Mohegan helped the English defeat the Pequot.
Uncas settled his people in a village at Shantok on the Thames River, which the Tribe defended from a Narragansett invasion. It was sparked by related European as well as Indian conflicts.
Finally, the Mohegan Tribe's alliance with the English kept its people relatively safe during the colonist's attacks on Native Americans during King Philip's War and afterward.
Mohegan Tribe Facts: Modern Times
In a rare occurrence, the Mohegan tribe managed to assimilate well into the American culture. Perhaps their early alliances aided them throughout the years and allowed them to live unscathed and displaced like many of the other Native American tribes. They adjusted to the times and still reside in Connecticut.
The Mohegan Tribe has created and maintained an independent governmental structure since before Europeans arrived in North America.
The Mohegan Government has evolved to exercise full civil and criminal jurisdiction over their lands using the Constitution of the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut, which they wrote in the 20th century.
The Mohegan Nation is governed by the Mohegan people. They elect a Tribal Council of nine Tribal Members and a Council of Elders composed of seven Tribal Members. All legislative and executive powers of the Tribe not granted to the Council of Elders are vested with the Tribal Council.
The Council of Elders oversees judicial matters and the tribe's cultural integrity. The Council of Elders also exercises legislative powers with respect to rules governing tribal membership and enrollment. The Tribal Court adjudicates on all non-gaming matters.
Following the Congressional passage of the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the Mohegan Nation used its cooperative relationship with the State of Connecticut to negotiate a gaming compact after it had gained federal recognition in 1994 and received land in settlement under the Mohegan Nation Land Claim Settlement Act.
The US took into trust the cleaned-up United Nuclear site for use by the Mohegan as a sovereign reservation.
The Tribe opened the Mohegan Sun casino in 1996, two years after gaining federal recognition. The compact created between Connecticut and the Mohegan Tribe secured 25 percent of slot revenues to the state to help fund services. It became a model agreement.
Connecticut's Native American tribes have generated the highest revenues for the state aside from federal government installations.
The government-to-government relationships that have developed between Connecticut and Mohegan have enabled quick resolutions to issues that have been raised, such as regulation of indoor smoking, alcohol service, and state police presence at the reservation.
Mohegan Tribe Facts: Online Resources
- Wikipedia - Mohegan Tribe
- Big Orrin - Mohegan Facts
- Mohegan Genealogy
- American Indian Records
- Official Website of Mohegan Tribe
- Native Languages - Mohegan Culture
- The History Junkie's Guide to Native American History
- The History Junkie's List of Native American Tribes
- The History Junkie's Guide to the French and Indian War
- The History Junkie's Guide to Colonial America